September 3, 2011: STRATEGY PAGE
Afghan commanders were so impressed with the American M1117 ASVs (Armored Security Vehicles) that the U.S. has agreed to supply over 500 of them to the Afghan Army. These will be used, as American Army M1117s are, mainly for security duties. M1117s are basically scout and patrol vehicles, carrying only four troops. These vehicles can mount either 12.7mm machine-guns or Mk19 40mm automatic grenade launchers in their turrets. The vehicles cost about one million dollars each. One thing about the M1117 that appeals to the Afghans is that the vehicle can withstand hits by RPG rockets. The RPG is the favorite Taliban anti-vehicle weapon. The ASV is also smaller than the MRAPs favored by NATO troops, and more nimble.
The ASV was, in effect, one of the first MRAPs (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) to get to Iraq (although it no longer qualifies as a proper MRAP). Originally developed in the 1990s for use by MPs in combat zones, only a few were bought initially. It was found that for Balkan peacekeeping, existing armored vehicles were adequate, and that in the narrow streets of Balkan towns, the ASV was too wide to be very maneuverable. Then came Iraq, and suddenly, the ASV was very popular. The army got lots more because military police like these vehicles a lot. The MPs originally wanted 2,000 ASVs, but before Iraq, were told they would be lucky to get a hundred. After 2003, the MPs got all they wanted. The M1117 soon became popular in Afghanistan as well.
The ASV is a 15 ton 4x4 armored car that is built to handle the kind of combat damage encountered in Iraq and Afghanistan. The ASVs are, unlike armored hummers, built from the ground up as an armored truck. ASVs are 6.5 meters (20 feet) long and 2.75 meters (8.5 feet) wide, making them a bit larger than hummers. The ASV is heavy enough to survive most roadside bombs and keep going. The ASV is bullet, and RPG proof. The turret is the same one used on the U.S. Marine Corps LAV. When the marines went shopping for armored trucks, however, they passed on the ASV. This is believed to be mainly because most armored trucks have more room inside. The ASV normally carries a crew of three. Over 2,300 have been delivered (some to foreign customers) so far. Bulgaria, for example, has some M1117s in Afghanistan. U.S. troops have hundreds of ASVs in Afghanistan.